President Barack Obama’s new picks to represent American interests in Denmark, Germany and Spain are all major Democratic fundraisers.
Rufus Gifford — who served as Obama’s 2012 campaign finance director and chairman of the president’s 2013 inaugural committee — has been selected to be the new ambassador to Denmark, the White House announced in a press release late Friday afternoon.
Obama also intends to nominate John B. Emerson, an executive at the investment firm The Capital Group Companies, and John Costos, a vice president at Home Box Office, to serve as the U.S. ambassadors to Germany and Spain, respectively.
Emerson raised at least $500,000 for Obama’s 2012 re-election efforts, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of information released by the campaign.
So, too, did Costos, along with his partner Michael Smith — whom the Obamas selected in 2008 to redecorate the White House and who currently serves on the Committee for the Preservation of the White House.
The actual amounts raised by the men could be much higher as the Obama campaign only voluntarily released information about their bundlers using broad ranges, the highest of which was “more than $500,000.”
Gifford, Emerson and Costos are among the first individuals to be nominated for ambassadorships since Obama’s re-election that are not career diplomats.
Like Costos, Gifford is openly gay. His former partner, Jeremy Bernard, currently works as the White House social secretary.
Their nominations come as gay rights activists have expressed frustration with the president for being slow to implement campaign promises that would guarantee more equal treatment.
First Lady Michelle Obama was heckled by a lesbian member of GetEQUAL at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser earlier this month.
The U.S. Supreme Court is also set to soon rule on two high-profile gay rights cases.
Obama also announced support for two career diplomats to be ambassadors to Brazil and Ethiopia, as well as Ken Hackett, the former head of Catholic Relief Services, to serve as the ambassador to Vatican City.
All ambassador-nominees must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
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